“You have girlfriends?”

Today we went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We were looking at portraits and paintings, and writing poetry based on a pre-chosen painting. I thought the museum would be a bit boring, but it was truly fun. The students—when we walked into the hallway with the paintings they’d seen, their arms went wild. “Oh my gosh, we’ve seen that! And that! And that!”

A girl who was in my group is tall and lanky, like a model. She’s sassy and she set off two alarms today. She talks with her hands and uses her whole body and all of the space around her when she moves.

Another girl who was in my group is short, moves more slowly, doesn’t know what “sassy” means, and is very cautious about her surroundings.

We were walking through part of the gallery and Sassy was walking, looking backwards, chatting with her friends, nearly running into things. After setting off two alarms already.

I started scolding her. “[Sassy!] Be more careful! Look forward instead of walking all twisted up so—so—you don’t run into things. Stop chit-chatting with your girlfriends!”

Everyone around could hear us, though I wasn’t yelling or anything.

Suddenly Cautious, who was far ahead of us, turned around and shrieked, “You have girlfriends?”

Oh. My. Kimchi.

All of my students burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself. I doubled over with laugher. “Girlfriends?” she repeated. Everyone else around us broke into smiles. Even the docent laughed.

Her timing and voice were just perfect.

Tin Woman
I can’t remember the name of this piece.

“We Will Drink, And Become Friends.”

“Why are you late?” Special Forces Instructor asks me, in Korean.

“Um, my boyfriend wanted to watch Obama, but we don’t have a TV, so I had to drive him to a friend’s house.”

Two of my classmates look at each other. One says, “I understood ‘Obama'” and the other, “I got ‘television.'”

Special Forces, who I assume wasn’t expecting such an answer laughs, “OK, warm-up.”

We drill, kick after kick in class. He speaks to me in English and slips into Korean. I say nothing, responding in Korean. I like it when we speak Korean.

After class I ask the instructor if he likes soju, and where I can find it since the Korean market doesn’t carry it. He says we should go out for drinks together.

“Yes,” I say, “We will drink, and become friends.”

DMV, Again and Taekwondo

After more than two hours at the DMV, I have corrected the registration address of my truck, and I have a new license.

Why is took the woman 45 mins to enter the information in her computer is beyond me.

Why they asked for hair color, eye color, and weight when it’s nowhere to be found on the card is beyond me.

Why the card expires in 2015 when I paid for eight years? That’s beyond me.*

Why the RESTRICTIONS part of my card is blank when I checked “yes” to “do you wear glasses” and said, “I must wear glasses while I drive, to not do so would be homicidal and suicidal” is beyond me, too.**

But I must say, the photo is good!

* Actually, I suspect the less-than-one-month-until-my-birthday part counts as one year. Good Man said, “We won’t be here in seven years anyways, so don’t try to fix it.”

** If you checked “yes” to any of the health questions, you had to explain them in a box. I thought that was rather stupid, since it’s obvious I wear glasses. So a drew a stick figure girl with glasses on her stick round head.

***

Last night I went to taekwondo. It was a tiny class of only five people, all of us black belts. (I think; I still can’t figure out why some people have red, orange, and blue belts and others have green and black belts. In case, everyone there was wearing a regular-looking black belt.)

We did a lot of kicking drills, and though I mentally didn’t want to go to class, it was exactly the sort of class I needed.

At one point in the class, a young guy (high-school aged) said to Special Forces Instructor, “하지마!”

I have no idea where he learned that, but we all stared at him. Half of the students asked me what he said, the other half asked a Korean-American classmate. “‘Don’t do that,'” I looked at him and said, “You can’t say that!”

“Why not?”

“That’s how you speak to lovers, family, children, and animals, not your instructor.”

He blushed and bowed to Special Forces Instructor, “Sorry.”

My partner said, “How should he say it?”

Hajimasayo.

The rest of class, the teenager kept using -세요.

I ended up being partnered with a young, cute guy. Looked like he was half-Asian, but could’ve been Latino or something else. I figured he was in his late teens, early twenties. Nice, friendly, nearly gave me a bloody nose with a firm, not too well-placed kick.

While we were doing sit-ups, he was very nervous to sit on my feet. I said, “I need you to sit on my feet.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

When we switched, I sat on his feet and hugged his knees to keep him steady. Something about working with all of those boys in Korea made me lose any worries about modesty in taekwondo. If I need you to sit on my feet, sit on them. I’m not attracted to you, but I do need stronger abs.

Stray Sheep

President Bush is too self righteous
to talk to me about this matter
I am your only salvation, because God told me
what to do.
You are all sheep that have gone
ASTRAY.

***

Seeing Myself in His Sunglasses

Obama, Nazis, and Diana

Obama!

Interestingly, while you need proof of residency (not with a lease!) to get a license, you don’t need it to register to vote here. A few weeks ago, I registered to vote with some people from the Obama campaign. Since that got me on their list, they called to let me know about a new office opening near us.

Good Man really wanted to go.

After that DMV experience, I didn’t want to go. But he did, and I’d promised him we’d go.

We did go—walking to the office, because it’s only 1.2 miles straight down the street—and I’m so glad we did. After dealing with Queen of the DMV, it was nice to be around nice, like-minded people. We got to see our local representative give a speech, and we got to chat with a lot of people.

Plus, we got a picnic lunch for free and the weather was great.

Good Man and Obama

Nazis

Cantaloupe, Seasoned Red Potatoes, Spicy Roasted Chick Peas, Peanut Butter and Lignon Berry Jam Sandwiches, and Carrot Sticks

Sunday afternoon, Good Man and I headed into DC with a picnic lunch. After enjoying our lunch (he decided, very firmly, that he doesn’t like cantaloupe), we went to the Holocaust Museum to see an exhibit about the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the politics involved in it. It was rather odd seeing some photos of Dachau since I’ve been there. (I had that experience watching Dark Knight, too. I unintentionally whispered, “I’ve been there!” when Hong Kong popped up on the screen.)

The exhibit itself was rather interesting. I didn’t know that Berlin is when the torch relay started. How the Nazis “cleaned up” to appear friendly, and how the international community reacted, in hindsight makes me wonder how idiotic people were. (I wonder how idiotic people are now to moan about China and human rights violations while ignoring Gitmo. Or Darfur.) The way that African Americans were treated by the German press… It was a really good exhibit and had a lot of photography, so I enjoyed it, as much as you can enjoy anything about the systematic, mass extermination of millions of people.

We had tickets to see the main part of the museum, but after the Berlin exhibit, we were both a bit spent, emotionally, so we decided to just wander around DC a bit. I will go back to the Holocaust Museum. I remember when it opened, I was in seventh or eighth grade, and reading about the Holocaust was a pet interest. When I read an article in Newsweek about the display of shoes, I swore I’d go there one day. Well, I did, but the shoes will wait until another day, because just the Nazi Olympics exhibit wore me out.

Diana!

After that emotional morning, Good Man and I went way out on the subway line to meet Diana! She was in town and her lovely family invited us over for dinner. We have no photos, but what a lovely dinner and what a nice family. She was in town an extremely short time, and I was flattered that she wanted to hang out with us considering she’d seen us more recently than her non-Korean friends.

(Oh, and Diana gave us her vacuum as a housewarming gift! Diana made the mistake of telling me this beforehand, and I was rather excited. I love vacuuming.)

DeMogic (DMV Logic)

DeMogic DMV “Logic”

Whenever I am stuck at a government office, I know why communism doesn’t work.

So. I went to the DMV. I needed to tag and title my car (within 30 days of moving) and get a new license (within 60).

I could have gone to an express DMV and tag and titled the car Friday afternoon, but I thought, “No, I’ll go Saturday morning and get it all done at once.”

Yeah. Good luck with that.

I could not get a new license. Why? Because my lease is not proof of residency. Why? Because it’s with a private owner. If it were between us and a big old company, the lease would be proof. But it’s not.

How royally screwed up is that, first off, and second off, why doesn’t their website say that?

So the “Supervisor,” who was infected with an I Got This Job By Taking a Test Anyone Could Take, Getting in the Job Lottery, and Filling a Quota, and Hence Now I Will Rule Over All of You attitude, looked at me and said, “the website also says that we can deny any form. At any time. For any reason.”

And since she was Queen of the DMV, well, I guess that was reason enough. (I should mention that it took her 25 minutes to deal with the man in front of me and to actually even talk to me. She was taking her sweet time to walk anywhere, talk to anyone, get anything done. And she was doing it obviously, purposefully. I know she was doing it on purpose because I used to do the same thing when I was having a bad day working the returns desk at various retail jobs. Difference? I was 18. She was a bit long in the tooth.)

She told me to bring in a change of address card from USPS. Yeah, um, I moved from Korea, so there is no change of address form.

Then she told me to bring in a landline phone bill because a landline is a utility, but a cell is not. OK, no go there, as I haven’t had a landline (here or in Korea) since 2005.

So she told me to bring in a water or gas bill—utilities which are included in our rent, and listed on my Not Good Lease.

I need to bring in an electric bill…we haven’t gotten the first one because we haven’t had a file with the company for a month yet!

Or I could bring in a cable bill, but I can’t bring in a cable internet bill because the former is a utility and the latter is not.

What kind of out-of-whack “logic” is this? It’s DeMogic, I tell you. Maybe even DeMonogic, because this woman was being a demon.

OK, so I can bring in a bank statement. But I get electronic copies (and haven’t gotten paper copies of anything in years), can I print one? “No print-outs are acceptable.”

“Can I bring a letter from a bank that I just opened an account with?”

“No. It must be a statement.”

What the hell?

Now, Minnesota, it must be said, has something going for it. While I was in Korea, my parents listed me (and my brother while he was in Iraq) as able to get mail at their house. The DMV in Minnesota is hooked up with the post office somehow. When I applied for my license, I didn’t need to show proof of any address. They would mail it to where I said I lived, and if that was an address on file with the USPS, I would get it. If not, nope.

How freakin’ cool is that? What a great way to use technology.

In Virginia, however, a lease is apparently not proof of residency. Oh, but only if it’s with a private individual. Which Mega Conglomerate Company is running Virginia? Can I quit paying my rent in court and then say, “Oh, but it’s with a private individual, so what?”

People say it’s because “well, you know, some of those 9/11 terrorists trained here.” Hey, guess what? A SSN does not prevent you from being a terrorist; requiring untold numbers of paper to get an ID just makes terrorists better at forgery.

I was being so polite and so calm. I said, “I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m trying to title my car within 30 days of moving here.” I am quite lucky that she wasn’t actually willing to read the lease and consider that July had 31 days, because it was actually day 31. (Still, Mom didn’t sign the title of the Ford over to me until August 10th; that was our way of buying me some time.)

“Oh,” she said in this very snooty tone, “You can title the car in VA. We’ll just use your other address.”

“But how do I bring in proof of that address when I don’t live there?”

“You can use your other state’s license. Is the address the same?”

So apparently, in Virginia, you can title a car with any damn address you want—even an address you’ve admitted you no longer live at!—as long as it matches some old license. I even said, “Do I need to change the address on the title later then?”

“No.”

Well that sounded fishy, but I titled the car.

And left.

And came home and ranted to Good Man who said, “See, it is not only Korea that is stupid.”

Indeed, Good Man, indeed.

Perfect for Me

I had a PTA meeting tonight. In Atlanta, I lived so far from school that I had to stay all night until the meeting ended; it made no sense to go home. Luckily, that is no longer the case.

I stayed at school for forty-five minutes or so, then ran to the post office and UPS (to return Evil Verizon’s modem). I knew I should be expecting my Unnamed Chain Retailer order for three folding bookshelves.

(Side: I like books.

A lot.

Before I went to Korea, I culled out about a quarter of my books. While in Minnesota, I culled out another quarter of them. Still, I have too many books. I know this (and it’s part of the reason I’m so excited to be living less than three miles from a decent library!).

I have not been able to finish unpacking because I don’t have enough bookshelf space.)

Walking from the car to our door, I was trying to figure out how many boxes of books I could unpack, how long tonight’s bibimbap would take to prepare, and how much time I needed back at school before the PTA meeting.

I walked into the apartment to find the shelves set up, full of my books. Good Man had unpacked every box of books he could find, and he’d even tried to group things together—cooking, Swedish, Korean, photography (and they were not well-grouped within their boxes!). He’d also taken out all of the trash and cardboard.

I looked at what he’d done and thought, “Damn, am I lucky.”

Good Man wasn’t home; he was out running an errand. When he came home, I thanked him. He apologized for not putting the books in perfect order. As if I care! (When I was a kid, I arranged my books by height.) I thanked him again and he just grinned.

I got to work for the PTA meeting and a co-worker who knew I was expecting the shelves asked if I’d received them. I told her what Good Man had done and she said, “Did he put them in the right place? And your books, too? Cause I would only be happy if my husband got it right.”

I smiled and said, “He did it, and I love it.” She’d missed the point.

I don’t want a perfect man. I want a man who’s perfect for me. And any man who even attempts to put my books in some sort of order is perfect for me.

Mother Says “Learn to Cook!” and “The Woman Says Marry a Nice American Girl.”

Saturday night, Good Man and I called his mother. His mother was so kind to me. She asked how I was, how work was going. She told me to please take good care of Good Man, and to make sure he eats his vegetables.

His mother also told him he needs to learn how to cook because “Amanda works too hard.”

I told her that he can clean the kitchen and bathroom well, so that makes me happy.

Actually, we’re off to a good start. Saturday night Good Man made his own coffee. And not that Korean style stick of instant coffee—he ground the beans and ran the coffee maker.

But…two steps forward, one step back…

Strawberries were on sale, so we bought two pints. At the grocery store I’d said, “We’ll freeze one.”

While we were putting away the groceries, I opened the freezer. Good Man had stuck an entire pint of strawberries in the freezer. In the container. Not washed, not hulled, not spread out in a single layer to freeze overnight. Nope, just thrown in the freezer in their original container.

I giggled and thought, Damn, I love this man.

***

Sunday morning, while Good Man was sleeping, Sister and I chatted online. She said that Mother worries about Good Man a little. I said, “She only worries a little because he has me. If he lived alone, she would worry a lot!”

Sister laughed and agreed.

I told her I’d post photos of Good Man’s breakfast on my Cyworld page so she could show Mother, to make her feel better. Sister thought it was a great idea. (Breakfast was whole wheat pancakes with fresh strawberries, green grapes, peach slices, and blackberries, with a cheese and vegetable mostly-egg white omelet.)

I miss Sister.

***

Good Man’s orientation at grad school started today. “So what’d you talk about?” I asked him.

“The woman said to marry an American because America is so much bureaucracy.”

“What?”

“She said that if you want to do stuff in America, you need a taxpayer number or social security number. But if you’re not working, you can’t get one really.” He shook his head, “And if you want to work on-campus, you can, but you have to study full-time to keep visa. So then if you work over 20 hours you can go half-time, and after nine months you can get an off-campus job, but you have to get permission. And you have to get an SSN. And it’s bullshit. Yeah.” He nodded, “So the woman said to meet a nice American and get married because then it’s a little easier.”

I laughed and said, “I’m pretty sure there’s just as much bureaucracy that way.”

Verizon in NoVA Sucks

“Thanks,” I say to the customer service representative for a national household goods chain, “I really appreciate it.”

I hang up and Good Man says, “You don’t sound like you ‘really appreciate it.'”

What I would appreciate is some decent customer service from any company.

And with that intro! Verizon.

Verizon DSL service sucks, flat out. Do not get them.

Good Man and I ordered Verizon’s DSL service Saturday, July 26th. We got their installation kit on Thursday the 31st. I called Verizon, hoping to get the service turned on faster. After being on hold for more than 20 mins, I got some woman who could not speak English well enough to understand. Her name, of course, was “Lisa.” (I have no problem with outsourcing to India; I have a problem with trying to hide it.) I consider myself fairly well traveled and I’ve conversed with many, many non-native speakers. Being a non-native speaker (of Korean) myself, I try to be as patient as possible. So when I said I couldn’t understand this woman, I truly meant it. She transfered me, and I was informed that it was impossible to turn on my service early, “but it might happen.”

Fine. Our service was supposed to start August 5th. Starting August 4th, Verizon started calling me (at 8:34 in the morning) with automated messages to “enjoy your new high-speed DSL service.”

Still, it wasn’t August 5th yet, so I ignored the message.

August 5th, I got another automated message (at 8:34 am). But when I got home, the service wasn’t on. At 4:30 pm on August 5th, I called Verizon, asking when it would be turned on. Another outsourced dude told me the service would be on by 6:00 pm.

At 6:15 I called again, asking why my service wasn’t working. A very nice woman helped me, then put me on hold for 48 minutes before telling me that “I talked to three departments, and I was told to tell you that we can’t help you because all the departments are closed, so you need to call back tomorrow at 8 am.”

She had to be kidding, right? Oh, but she wasn’t.

At 10:00 pm, we got an email from Verizon telling us the service was working. But since we got that email by borrowing some neighbor’s open wireless…. Well, Verizon wasn’t working.

Wednesday, August 6th, at exactly 8:00 am, I called Verizon again. I explained the problem and said, “I have exactly 15 minutes to talk to you before I need to work. What can we do in 15 minutes?” The man did a line test (finally!) and found that something seemed to be wrong with the line. “Can you please call my boyfriend and talk to him? He’s at home, he knows computers.”

The man agreed and took Good Man’s number.

At 8:34 am, I got another frickin’ automated message from Verizon telling me to “enjoy” my service.

At lunch I called Good Man. Service Dude had, indeed, called Good Man and done several line tests. He’d also arranged to have a technician come out.

Come out at Friday, August 8th, at 8:00 pm.

I called Verizon, was put on hold for 23 minutes and finally got someone. I said, “This is unacceptable. The service was supposed to be turned on yesterday. I was put on hold for over 45 minutes yesterday, only to be told, ‘nobody will help you because it’s after six.’ I had to talk to multiple people before anyone thought of running a line test. Yet, I keep getting automated phone calls telling to enjoy some non-existent service.”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but Friday at 8 is the earliest we can come out.”

Nobody had, at this point, offered me any sort of credit or compensation for the hassle. Nobody had given me their direct phone number. Everybody had said, “I’m here to help you solve your problems,” but nobody had helped and further, nobody had even apologized for the hassle.

I took a deep breath and calmly said, with the voice I use on my 12-year old students, “Your company has until 6 pm to fix my internet service. If you can’t do that, I need to cancel. Which phone number do I need to call for that?”

“Ma’am, we really can’t help you.”

“I used to work in customer service. Someone in your company can help me. Nobody is willing to. That is why I need the phone number.”

Before going home, I checked with some coworkers about their service providers, and got an idea of whom I wanted to switch to.

That evening, the service was indeed, not working. So I called and canceled. I also canceled the service call. You know, the one for Friday at 8 pm?

That night Good Man and I signed up for cable internet service. Moments after we’d placed the order, we realized we’d made a mistake. We called customer service and added what we wanted to. Without asking, the woman gave me her name and her direct phone number. We were able to have the service technician come out Thursday morning between 8 am and 10 am, and if he was late, we’d automatically get a $20 credit.

Well, the service guy came out, but something was wrong with the cable. He took Good Man’s number, told him where he was going, and came back around 3 pm. By the time I got home, Good Man was happily typing away.

Wow. What a difference. (I later found out from Mark that the phone lines in NoVA suck and you want to get cable internet rather than DSL.)

Thursday morning, I got another automated call from Verizon.

Friday, around 7:30, some man called me. “Yeah, dis is Verizon, you wan’ servi’?”

“Um, no. I canceled that call Wednesday night.”

“You don’ wan’ ‘nt’rnet?”

“We have internet from one of your competitors. I’ve sorry Verizon didn’t cancel your work order. I canceled it two days ago.”

The man on the other end said, “Yeah, no prob. Dey alway’ be doin’ dat.”

Finally, a Verizon employee tells the truth.